Apart from the obvious of a slow cooker being a one pot wonder we can leave all day and open the front door to delicious smelling aromas, saving on both time and washing up, did you know that a slow cooker uses less energy than a oven (1, 2)? That’s a winning line right there in this economic crisis, even before I even begin to tell you the health and nutrition benefits to be found from cooking your meals in a slow cooker.
Sticking with the cost effective tips before we delve into nutrition, a slow cooker can actually help to reduce shopping costs too. From being able to make meals like soups and stews that can be vegetable based, to being able to use cheaper cuts of meat with the benefits of the slow cooker tenderising the meat and getting the very best of both the flavours and texture (1,2).
I always stand by a nutritious meal should be full of colour to help with a balanced plate and encourage people I work with to try for at least 3 different colours on the plate. Sounds easy right? A hint for the 3 colours: fruit and vegetables!! My top tip: is there a fruit and or vegetable with each meal? Still despite all of the government campaigns we as the UK are not achieving our 5 a day, with only 27% of adults getting the recommendation. Interestingly, one of the reasons for this has been claimed to be the lack of cooking skills to prepare fruit and vegetables (3). If you are one of those people who aren’t very confident in the kitchen, the good news with a slow cooker is that it only requires some peeling and chopping and following a recipe and the slow cooker does the rest.
One of the health benefits of a slow cooker is that with it being a sealed unit nutrients are reabsorbed back into the meal rather than being lost in the liquid like traditional cooking methods. If you are in need of cutting down your salt intake, something else that is a benefit is the long cooking times can reduce the need for seasoning and additional sauces because the flavours are locked in (4).
Not only are you increasing your opportunity for a healthier meal choice, you are reducing your time cooking (and washing up, that’s my winner!) and therefore the opportunity to have less stress when you get home and pressure fitting it all into a busy day leaving more time to do things in an evening you love whether that’s watching TV, playing with the kids or going to the gym.
My top 5 Nutritionist top tips for using a slow cooker:
Reduces the intake of processed foods
You save time slaving away at the oven and sink
Helps to create a balanced meal
Reduces cost - there’s a reason our grandparents still love them!
Family or batch cooking friendly
Additional note: you can purchase slow cookers from as little as £10 all the way up into the £100s, I found a good article on BBC Good Food with a list of the top 9 best slow cookers for 2022 as well as their top slow cooker tried and tested delicious recipes.
Written by Jade Mottley - Human Nutrition MSc & Sport Science BSc &